TURKEY COULD ABOLISH CONTROVERSIAL LAW ON THE MILITARY
Turkish politicians are revisiting proposals that could change the nature of civil-military relations on the anniversary of the military's last perceived attempt to intervene in politics.
President Abdullah Gül called Wednesday for the abolition or rewriting of an article in the law governing the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK, that is seen as the legal basis for military coups, while Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül suggested tying the Chief of General Staff to his ministry, instead of the Prime Ministry.
"Both our legal system and our laws have undergone changes that will not allow for [another] coup," Gül told journalists en route from Belgrade to Turkey. "And the 35th article [of the TSK Internal Services Law] should also be changed."
Gül said Article 35 did not actually provide grounds for a coup, "but there have been misunderstandings, so it should be rewritten."
The president spoke to reporters on the fourth anniversary of what is referred to as the April 27 e-memorandum or e-coup. On April 27, 2007, the General Staff posted a statement on its website that was interpreted as military interference in the presidential elections. In the statement, the military criticized the government's decision to nominate Gül, whose wife wears the headscarf, to the presidency.
"April 27 has been relegated to the pages of history. There were lessons that needed to be learned, and these lessons have been learned. Turkey has overcome the risk of military interventions," Gül said Wednesday, adding that the country's military has also changed.
"One military, not two"
Gönül, meanwhile, hit back at criticism against the military while speaking to the private channel NTV on Wednesday night. Gönül proposed tying the Chief of the General Staff to the Defense Ministry as in European countries but also criticized attempts to discredit the military.
Asked to comment on claims that the arrests of commanders as part of the ongoing "Sledgehammer" (Balyoz) and Ergenekon alleged coup-plot cases were likely to have a negative impact on the military's counterterrorism activities, Gönül said individuals and institutions should be evaluated individually.
"Recently, institutions and individuals have been mixed. We see that the military is being attacked and this is wrong. We have one military, not two," he said.
CHP proposes change in article 35
Atilla Kart, a Konya deputy for the main oppositional Republican People's Party, or CHP, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review that the CHP had been urging a re-write of the Article 35 for a very long time and "even submitted a law draft."
"We see this as one of the basic components of becoming more democratic. And it is very interesting that the government is avoiding commenting on the issue. This is something that must be questioned," said Kart.
Responding to Gönül's statements, Kart said it was "natural for the General Staff to be brought under the roof of the Defense Ministry and that this should be brought to life in a systematic and unified matter."
Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, group deputy chairman Oktay Vural, on the other hand, told the Daily News that the president's suggestion to abolish Article 35 "shows that interfering with the national will is legal, which is absolutely wrong. Such interference is not legal. Of course military interference is not right either."
"And what will happen when the General Staff is put under the roof of the Ministry of National Defense?" Vural said. "It is not right to use the military as political material. We have to give the military the value it deserves. If they're doing this to discredit the military in the eyes of the people, then it is completely wrong."
WE DIDN'T KNOW THEY WERE MAD
The main opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who commented by twitter on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's "crazy project," Canal Istanbul, saying, "While there are no roads from villages to schools for children, digging Istanbul is an irresponsible matter. It has been obvious that they are crazy, but we did not know they were mad."
DOES NATION WANT NUCLEAR?
A&G survey company's chairman Adil Gür conducted a survey for environmentalist organization Greenpeace, which led to interesting results. 64% of Turkish citzens say "No to nuclear energy." The survey was conducted in 34 provinces, and 137 neighborhoods and villages. 2,469 people joined the survey.
TURKISH SECURITY FORCES KILL FIVE MORE PKK TERRORISTS IN CLASH IN SOUTHEAST TURKEY
Turkish security forces killed five more PKK terrorists on Thursday in a clash in southeast Turkey. The clash erupted on Wednesday between security forces and a group of nearly 20 terrorists near the Pulumur town of the southeastern province of Tunceli. Two terrorists were killed in the initial firefight.
FIRST UNEARTHING FOR SUSPECTED VICTIM OF TORTURE WHILE UNDER DETENTI0N
Turkey has been experiencing a new development for the first time in its history. A prosecutor decided that the grave of Ali Ekber Yürek, a teacher who died under detention during the September 12 military intervention, should be unearthed due to investigate torture allegations. The number one suspect is a major general.
Yürek's family filed a lawsuit claiming that Yürek died due to torture although executives told them he committed suicide in his cell in 1981. A prosecutor who was born after the military intervention launched the investigation. 30-year-old prosecutor Mehmet Kuş decided to open Yürek's grave. Major General Yusuf Haznedaroglu, the commander of martial law in the southeastern province of Kahramanmaraş, is among the top suspects list of prosecutor Kuş.
CONTRIBUTION FROM ANKARA IN PALESTINIAN CONSENSUS
Turkey played an important role in the consensus, which has been reached between Hamas and Palestinian administration. Ankara, which exerted efforts to end the separation between West Bank and Gaza for three years, also paid attention not to jump the mediation role of Egypt too. Israel is uneasy about the consensus. Israeli president defined the consensus as "a vital mistake."
FROM TURKEY TO SYRIA CRASH COURSE ON POLITICAL REFORMS
A group of senior bureaucrats from Turkey, including head of the country's central intelligence organization and the top privatization authority, traveled to Damascus, Syria, to brief the Syrian government over how to make rapid reforms, which are seen by many as the last chance for al-Assad's regime to survive growing political unrest in the country. The Turkish group of government bureaucrats is conveying Turkey's own experiences in diverse fields such as elections law and privatization as well as press law. The group has arrived in Syria after a telephone conversation between Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Bashar al-Assad, who is getting prepared to introduce a multi-party system.
I HOPE AL-ASSAD WILL GIVE UP
The Hürriyet Daily newspaper met Abdelhalim Haddam, the former vice-president of Syria who was considered as the black box of former Syrian leader Hafez al-Assad. Haddam is actually in exile as he had differences of opinion with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Haddam said, "I hope al-Assad will give up before the situation reaches dangerous dimensions. Opposition groups do not want to see soldiers of another country on Syrian soil."
Haddam gave interesting information about head terrorist, Abdullah Öcalan: "Öcalan was staying in a building in downtown Damascus when the PKK crisis erupted between Turkey and Syria. This is the first time I am making this public. Turkey's military attache was also staying in the same building."
ANKARA MULLS POST-ASSAD SCENARIOS, EYES ALL OPTIONS FOR SYRIA
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's increasingly shaky grip on power has Ankara crafting new scenarios for the aftermath of his possible fall, while continuing to urge the recalcitrant leader to make immediate reforms.
Signals from Damascus indicate that Syrian authorities' insistence on maintaining the status quo could lead to regime change in the Middle Eastern country, where rising violence has Ankara concerned that the situation could trigger further instability across the region and also set backTurkish trade and foreign-policy gains.
A high-level Turkish government delegation, including representatives from the National Intelligence Organization, or MİT, and the State Planning Organizations, or DPT, traveled to Damascus on Thursday to express Turkey's willingness to support Syrian reforms. The delegation is part of Ankara's efforts urging al-Assad to meet the demands of pro-reform demonstrators as Western countries threaten sanctions if the bloody crackdown in his country does not ease.
Turkey's National Security Council, or MGK, also met Thursday to be briefed by Ömer Önhon, the Turkish ambassador to Damascus, who met Syrian Prime Minister Adel Safar on Sunday.
MİT chief Hakan Fidan, DPT Undersecretary Kemal Madenoğlu and other members of the delegation met with al-Assad to hear the latest developments in his country and assess his position on the continuing unrest. The delegation was expected to return to Turkey as the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review went to press late Thursday.
Another delegation, including DPT experts, is also expected to travel to Damascus in the coming days. The experts will brief Syrian administrations on Turkey's reform experiences, particularly with economic development and public administration, diplomatic sources told the Daily News on Thursday.
"The delegation aims to produce a road map for democratic changes for Syria's public and an economic administration in line with Syrian people's demands," one diplomatic source said.
Syrian media reported that Turkey approved a 180-million-euro Eximbank loan for Syria last week.
"We don't want an authoritarian, totalitarian regime in Syria. We hope the process of democratization is rapidly pursued," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Wednesday, following a phone conversation with al-Assad. The decision was made the same day to send the delegation to Damascus.
OIC urges Syria for restraint
Speaking with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the secretary-general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, or OIC, expressed his "profound sorrow at the large number of deaths and injuries," a statement from the organization said Thursday.
It added that İhsanoğlu renewed the OIC's stance in favor of restraint and nonviolence along with early implementation of the reforms announced by the al-Assad government and a prompt engagement in a constructive dialogue with the national forces.
UN SAYS TURKEY SHOULD BE INVOLVED IN LIBYA PROCESS
The United Nations has asked Turkey to be involved in providing humanitarian aid to Libya and resolving the ongoing crisis there, a Turkish diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Thursday.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu met Thursday in Ankara with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's special Libya representative, Abdul Ilah al-Khatib, ahead of the U.N. envoy's visit to Libya, where he aims to hold talks with both the Libyan administration and the opposition in Benghazi.
"The special U.N. envoy for Libya expressed that they want Turkey to be involved in the Libya process on the issues of both humanitarian aid and a solution to the crisis," the Turkish diplomat told the Daily News.
According to the diplomat, the one-and-a-half-hour conversation focused specifically on humanitarian aid and the envoy expressed appreciation for Turkey's efforts. Sources said al-Khatib briefed Ankara on his impressions based on previous contact about a possible truce, for which he did not express much optimism.
Davutoğlu informed the U.N. envoy about the road map Ankara proposed to end the turmoil in Libya, the diplomat said. This road map includes urging an immediate cease-fire, the lifting of sieges by regime forces of rebel-held towns and the initiation of a "transformation process" that would lead to free elections.
The Turkish foreign minister also told al-Khatib that Turkey placed importance in and supported the U.N.'s efforts, and would do everything in its power to contribute to them.
Al-Khatib will travel to Benghazi on Friday to discuss a possible cease-fire between the Libyan administration and opposition.
Davutoğlu previously met with Ban and al-Khatib during the Doha meeting of the Libya Contact Group.
UNIVERSITY EXAM RESULTS MADE PUBLIC VERY HASTILY
Professor Ali Demir, the chairman of the Student Selection & Replacement Center, or ÖSYM, met deputy chief prosecutor Sedan Sakinan, who was investigating the coding allegations in the university entrance exam, just before he made public the results of the first leg of the exam.
Ankara Chief Prosecutor's Office said on Thursday morning that experts had completed their examinations, and ÖSYM made the exam results public immediately after the statement.
Exams of 1,648,240 students were considered valid, and 38,269 of them got zero from the exam. 1,805 students answered all 40 math questions correctly; these were claimed to have been coded.